Copyright (c) 2021 Lasse Hämäläinen, Ari Haasio, J. Tuomas Harviainen
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Usernames play a major role in online communication by providing a vital first impression and including clues about the identities and personal characteristics of users. Usernames are extremely important in the online trade of illegal drugs, which carries several risks and therefore requires a high degree of trust between the transaction parties. This study examines how sellers and buyers of illegal drugs represent themselves in their usernames. Data on 1,654 usernames collected from a Finnish darknet marketplace, Torilauta (2017–2020) are analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. The usernames are mostly in Finnish and often feature slang and spoken language expressions. Many names include clues about a user’s age, gender, and location. References to various illegal drugs in usernames were found to express a close relationship with the substances. In contrast, they only rarely utilize typical real-life marketing strategies, which suggests that the users do not seek publicity and do not wish to enhance their online reputation. Differences between drug sellers’ and buyers’ usernames are minimal, possibly because of group overlap. Overall, it appears that the users aim to blend in with the drug user community rather than stand out from it by building distinctive images of themselves.
- Ainiala, Terhi, Minna Saarelma, and Paula Sjöblom. 2012. Names in Focus. An Introduction to Finnish Onomastics. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society.
- Aleksiejuk, Katarzyna. 2014. “Internet Names as an Onomastic Category.” In Names in Daily Life. Proceedings of the XXIV ICOS International Congress of Onomastic Sciences, 243–255. Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya.
- Arpa, Sharon. 2017. Women Who Use Drugs: Issues, Needs, Responses, Challenges and Implications for Policy and Practice. Lisbon: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
- Back, Mitja D., Stefan C. Schmukle, and Boris Egloff. 2008. “How Extraverted Is Honey.email@example.com? Inferring Personality from E-mail Addresses.” Journal of Research in Personality 42, no. 4: 1116–1122.
- Barratt, Monica J., Jason A. Ferris, and Adam R. Winstock. 2016. “Safer Scoring? Cryptomarkets, Social Supply and Drug Market Violence.” International Journal of Drug Policy 35: 24–31.
- Bechar-Israeli, Haya. 1995. “From to : Nicknames, Play and Identity on Internet Relay Chat.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 1, no. 2.
- Bugheşiu, Alina. 2012. “Diachrony and Synchrony in Onomastics. Virtual Anthroponymy.” Analele Universităţii Bucureşti. Limbişi Literaturi Străine 1: 5–15.
- Cornetto, Karen M. and Kristine L. Nowak. 2006. “Utilizing Usernames for Sex Categorization in Computer-Mediated Communication: Examining Perceptions and Accuracy.” CyberPsychology & Behavior 9, no. 4: 377–387.
- Crenshaw, Nicole and Bonnie Nardi. 2014. “What's in a Name? Naming Practices in Online Video Games.” In Proceedings of the First ACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-human Interaction in Play, 67–76. New York: Association for Computing Machinery.
- Denton, Barbara and Pat O’Malley. 1999. “Gender, Trust and Business: Women Drug Dealers in the Illicit Economy.” British Journal of Criminology 39, no. 4: 513–530.
- Drachen, Anders, Rafet Sifa, and Christian Thurau. 2014. “The Name in the Game: Patterns in Character Names and Gamer Tags.” Entertainment Computing 5, no. 1: 21–32.
- Ecker, Robert 2011. “Creation of Internet Relay Chat Nicknames and Their Usage in English Chatroom Discourse.” Linguistik Online 50: 4–29.
- Ghounane, Nadia. 2020. “A Thorough Examination of Teens Drug Slang in Algeria.” Arab World English Journal 11, no. 1: 419–431.
- Harviainen, J. Tuomas, Ari Haasio, and Lasse Hämäläinen. 2020. “Drug Traders on a Local Dark Web Marketplace.” In Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Academic Mindtrek, 20–26. New York: Association for Computing Machinery.
- Harviainen, J. Tuomas, Ari Haasio, Teemu Ruokolainen, Lobna Hassan, Piotr Siuda, and Juho Hamari. 2021. “Information Protection in Dark Web Drug Markets Research.” In Proceedings of the 54th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, edited by Tung X. Bui, 4673–4680.
- Heisler, Jennifer L. and Scott L. Crabill. 2006. “Who Are ‘stinkybug’ and ‘Packerfan4’? Email Pseudonyms and Participants’ Perceptions of Demography, Productivity, and Personality.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12, no. 1: 114–135.
- Hämäläinen, Lasse. 2013. “User Names in Online Gaming Community Playforia.” In Names in the Economy: Cultural Prospects, edited by Paula Sjöblom, Terhi Ainiala, and Ulla Hakala, 214–228. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press.
- Hämäläinen, Lasse. 2019. “User Names of Illegal Drug Vendors on a Darknet Cryptomarket.” Onoma 50: 43–68.
- Hämäläinen, Lasse. 2020. “User Names in Finnish Online Communities.” Studia Anthroponymica Scandinavica 35: 177–189.
- Hämäläinen, Lasse and Ari Haasio. 2019. “Vakava Leikki: Tiedonjakaminen, Identiteetti ja Leikillisyys Suomalaisen Seksichatin Nimimerkeissä” [Serious Play: Information Sharing, Identity, and Playfulness in the Nicknames of a Finnish Sex Chat]. WiderScreen 1–2/2019.
- Hämäläinen, Lasse and Emmi Lahti. 2021 (in press). “Argumentation in Finnish Online Discussions about Decriminalising Cannabis Use.” Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
- Hämäläinen, Lasse and Teemu Ruokolainen. 2021 (in press). “Kukkaa, Amfea, Subua ja Essoja: Huumausaineiden Nimitykset Tor-verkon Suomalaisella Kauppapaikalla” [Weed, Speed, Subu, and Eve: Nominations for Illegal Drugs on a Finnish Darknet Marketplace]. Sananjalka 63.
- Karjalainen, Karoliina, Niina Pekkanen, and Pekka Hakkarainen. 2020. Suomalaisten Huumeiden Käyttö ja Huumeasenteet: Huumeaiheiset Väestökyselyt Suomessa 1992–2018 [Drug Use and Drug Attitudes among Finns: Drug-related Population Surveys in Finland 1992–2018]. Helsinki: Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.
- Kokkinakis, Athanasios V., Jeff Lin, Davin Pavlas, and Alex R. Wade. 2016. “What’s in a Name? Ages and Names Predict the Valence of Social Interactions in a Massive Online Game.” Computers in Human Behavior 55: 605–613.
- Malin, Aarno. 2020. “Tor-verkossa Toimivan Torilaudan Lopettaminen Panee Suomalaisen Huumekaupan Uusiksi” [Closing Torilauta in Tor Network Restructures the Finnish Drug Trade]. Image October 29, 2020. Accessed January 15, 2021. https://www.apu.fi/artikkelit/tor-verkko-torilaudan-lopettaminen-panee-huumekaupan-uusiksi.
- Martin, James, Jack Cunliffe, and Rasmus Munksgaard. 2019. Cryptomarkets: A Research Companion. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.
- Martin, James, Rasmus Munksgaard, Ross Coomber, Jakob Demant, J., and Monica J. Barratt. 2020. “Selling Drugs on Darkweb Cryptomarkets: Differentiated Pathways, Risks and Rewards.” The British Journal of Criminology 60, no. 3: 559–578.
- Motschenbacher, Heiko. 2020. “Corpus Linguistic Onomastics: A Plea for a Corpus-Based Investigation of Names.” Names 68, no. 2: 88–103.
- Moyle, Leah, Andrew Childs, Ross Coomber, and Monica J. Barratt. 2019. “#Drugsforsale: An Exploration of the Use of Social Media and Encrypted Messaging Apps to Supply and Access Drugs.” International Journal of Drug Policy 63: 101–110.
- Munksgaard, Rasmus and James Martin. 2020. “How and Why Vendors Sell on Cryptomarkets.” Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice 608: 1–12.
- Nuessel, Frank. 2017. “A Note on Selected Names of Colorado Medical Marijuana Dispensaries.” Names 65, no. 2: 112–120.
- Oksanen, Atte, Bryan Lee Miller, Iina Savolainen, Anu Sirola, Jakob Demant, Markus Kaakinen, and Izable Zych. 2020. “Illicit Drug Purchases via Social Media Among American Young People.” In Social Computing and Social Media. Design, Ethics, User Behavior, and Social Network Analysis, edited by Gabriele Meiselwitz, 278–288. Cham: Springer.
- Ormsby, Eileen. 2016. “Silk Road: Insights from Interviews with Users and Vendors.” In The Internet and Drug Markets, 61–68. EMCDDA Insights 21. Luxembourg: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
- Perälä, Jussi. 2011. “Miksi lehmät Pitää Tappaa?” Etnografinen Tutkimus 2000-luvun alun Huumemarkkinoista Helsingissä [Why Cows Must Be Killed? Ethnographical Study of the Drug Market in Helsinki in the Early 2000s]. Helsinki: Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.
- Power, Mike. 2013. “Online Highs Are Old as the Net: The First E-commerce Was a Drugs Deal.” The Guardian April 19, 2013. Accessed January 15, 2021. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/
- Raátz, Judit. 2011. “Nick as Self-attributed Name.” Nouvelle Revue d'Onomastique 53: 183–211.
- Rönkä, Sanna and Jaana Markkula, eds. 2020. Huumetilanne Suomessa 2020 [Drug Situation in Finland 2020]. Helsinki: Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare.
- Shortis, Patrick, Judith Aldridge, and Monica J. Barratt. 2020. “Drug Cryptomarket Futures: Structure, Function and Evolution in Response to Law Enforcement Actions.” In Research Handbook on International Drug Policy, edited by David R. Bewley-Taylor and Khalid Tinasti, 355–380. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
- Stommel, Wyke. 2007. “Mein Nick Bin Ich! Nicknames in a German Forum on Eating Disorders.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13, no. 1: 141–162.
- Szymański, Leszek. 2014. “Aspects of Morphology and Character Choice Motivation in Internet Nickname Constructions.” In Name and Naming. Proceedings of Second International Conference of Onomastics, edited by Oliviu Felecan, 822–830. Cluj-Napoca: Editura Mega.
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 2016. World Drug Report 2016. New York: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 2020. World Drug Report 2020, Booklet 4: Cross-cutting Issues: Evolving Trends and New Challenges. New York: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
- Van Buskirk, Joe, Raimondo Bruno, Timothy Dobbins, Courtney Breen, Lucinda Burns, Sundresan Naicker, and Amanda Roxburgh. 2017. “The Recovery of Online Drug Markets Following Law Enforcement and Other Disruptions.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 173: 159–162.
- Van Hout, Marie Claire and Tim Bingham. 2014. “Responsible Vendors, Intelligent Consumers: Silk Road, the Online Revolution in Drug Trading.” International Journal of Drug Policy 25: 183–189.
- Vandoros, Sotiris and Ichiro Kawachi. 2019. “The Relative Risk of Motor Vehicle Collision on Cannabis Celebration Day in Great Britain.” Accident Analysis & Prevention 128: 248–252.
- Whitty, Monica and Jeff Gavin. 2001. “Age/sex/location: Uncovering the Social Cues in the Development of Online Relationships.” CyberPsychology & Behavior 4, no. 5: 623–630.
- Whitty, Monica and Tom Buchanan. 2010. “What’s in a Screen Name? Attractiveness of Different Types of Screen Names Used by Online Daters.” International Journal of Internet Science 5, no. 1: 5–19.
- Xu, Xing, He Huang, Ting Jiang, and Yuanpeng Zou. 2020. “WeChat Usernames: An Exploratory Study of Users’ Selection Practices.” Names 68, no. 3: 156–168.
- Yle 2019. “Police Launch Thousands of Investigations into Suspected Crimes on Finnish Silk Road.” Yle.fi News December 7, 2019. Accessed January 15, 2021. https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/ police_launch_thousands_of_investigations_into_suspected_crimes_on_finnish_silk_road/11107617.